Tax and expenditure limitations and the fiscal relationships between state and local governments*

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This paper uses comprehensive data on state and local tax and spending limitations for forty-nine states between 1976 and 1990 to estimate the effects of these limits on the fiscal relationships between state and local government. Results indicate that tax and spending limits on local governments are only partially effective in reducing revenues because political agents bypass limitations by transferring revenue reliance to unconstrained revenue sources, or because unconstrained levels of government take on additional revenue responsibilities. In particular, the empirical analysis demonstrates that binding local government fiscal constraints are associated with reductions in local revenues and increases in state aid to local governments. In contrast, state government limitations are related to reductions in both state and local own source revenues.

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